Fletcher backs Vaughn's decision to quit

Duncan Fletcher believes Michael Vaughan will be doing the right thing if, as widely anticipated, the former England captain announces his retirement from all senior cricket on Tuesday.

Ex-England coach Fletcher gave Vaughan his Test debut in 1999, after singling him out as a “classy batsman” despite a modest county record, and then made the Yorkshire right-hander captain of the national side in 2003.

Together the two men masterminded England’s 2005 Ashes triumph and Fletcher told Monday’s edition of the Guardian that the world of cricket was losing a “gutsy fighter”.

Fletcher said: “Vaughan was a classy batsman, but he became a marvellous captain and a good friend. English cricket can be very
proud of him.

“The public saw one side only: a batsman who could cover-drive and pull like a dream, and a tactically astute leader who brought the best out of his players.

“What they didn’t see was the gutsy fighter who could score 177 with a busted knee, as he did in Adelaide in 2002/03, or the burning desire which once made him furious with me when I told him he couldn’t play in a one-dayer at Bristol against the Aussies because of a serious finger injury.”

Fletcher added: “It’s sad that he’s going to announce his retirement, but reluctantly I have to say he’s made the right decision.

“Cricket, and not just English cricket, will miss him.”

Vaughan’s future has been the subject of speculation ever since he was left out of England’s Ashes training squad last week.

British newspaper reports on Sunday said his retirement was imminent and the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) subsequently announced the 34-year-old Vaughan would hold a press conference at Edgbaston on Tuesday.

England’s Ashes triumph four years ago was the high point of Vaughan’s time in charge of England, with a persistent knee injury leaving him on the sidelines for months at a time.

Unsurprisingly, his form as a batsman—which had seen him touch the realms of greatness during the 2002/03 tour of Australia when he made three hundreds—also began to decline.

He resigned the England captaincy in tears in August last year after the home series against South Africa was lost and has not played for England since.

Vaughan, England’s most successful Test captain in terms of overall wins, with 26 victories, 11 defeats and 14 draws in his five-year spell in charge, vowed to force his way back into the team through sheer weight of runs.

But never the most prolific of run-getters in county cricket, he has managed just 147 runs in seven County Championship innings this season for Yorkshire.

Meanwhile any hopes Vaughan had of regaining a place in England’s side have been blunted by the emergence of Ravi Bopara, who this year has scored hundreds in three successive Tests against the West Indies, at No 3.

However, Marcus Trescothick, who opened the batting for England four years ago, said former first-wicket partner Vaughan could still have played a key role in this season’s Ashes series, which starts in Cardiff on July 8.

“His experience within this year’s Ashes side would have been really important,” Trescothick told Sky Sports.

Vaughan replaced Nasser Hussain as England captain in 2003 during the home series with South Africa and Trescothick, still playing county cricket for Somerset after personal problems cut short his international career, said he was far and away the best candidate.

“When Nasser Hussain finished the team needed to move forward and Michael was the right guy at the time,” Trescothick explained.

“People see what he does on the field but they don’t see the off-the-field Michael.
He was brilliant at keeping you going to the next game, the next innings, or the next day. That’s what he was great at.”

Vaughan scored 5 719 Test runs in 82 matches at an average of 41,44 with 18 hundreds and a best of 197 against India at Trent
Bridge in 2002.—Sapa, AFP

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